Luis Suárez

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La Liga: Draw in Madrid derby puts Barca 10 clear of capital rivals

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MADRID (AP) Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid played to a scoreless draw in their first derby at the new Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Saturday, leaving both teams further away from Spanish league leader Barcelona.

Barcelona won at Leganes 3-0 earlier and ended the day 10 points in front of both Madrid clubs after 12 matches. The thriving Catalan club is seven points in front of second-place Valencia, which will try to extend its seven-game winning streak at Espanyol on Sunday.

The draw extended Atletico’s winless run at its new home to five matches. It drew three straight entering this weekend. Diego Simeone’s team has won only two of its last 10 games in all competitions.

Both teams will have to remain nearly perfect for the rest of the season to try to catch up to Barcelona, which has won 11 of its 12 league matches.

It was a tense between Real and Atletico from the start, with hard fouls from both sides.

Real had control for most of the game but was not able to create many significant chances.

Atletico had one of its best opportunities early when forward Angel Correa entered the area free from markers with only goalkeeper Kiko Casilla to beat but sent his shot wide.

Substitute Kevin Gameiro also came close in the second half, but his shot over Casilla was cleared by Real defender Raphael Varane in front of the goal-line.

Real threatened with a few runs by Isco and a couple of free kicks taken by Cristiano Ronaldo.

It was another tough night for Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann. Ronaldo has scored six times in the Champions league but only once in La Liga, while Griezmann has only three goals in 14 matches with Atletico in all competitions. The France forward was jeered when he was replaced by Fernando Torres near the end of the second half.

Luis Suarez scored twice to end a five-match scoring drought in Barcelona’s win.

The Uruguay striker found the net in each half and substitute midfielder Paulinho scored late to give the Catalan club its 11th win.

Leganes, ninth in the standings, had its chances early in southern Madrid but couldn’t beat Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Suarez opened the scoring in the 28th after Leganes goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar dropped the ball in front of the goal after a cross by Paco Alcacer. Suarez’s second in the 60th was a rebound shot after Cuellar parried a shot by Lionel Messi. Suarez hadn’t scored in more than a month.

“What mattered to me was that I was feeling good and was helping the team, and today the goals helped us get the three points against a difficult rival,” Suarez said. “We always try to play better, but it’s not always possible.”

Paulinho sealed the victory in the 90th after a pass by Messi, who was on the ground fighting for the ball when he tipped it back to the midfielder.

Leganes, playing only in its second season in the first division, wore a specially designed purple shirt to promote the fight against gender violence.

“We had our opportunities, but in the end we knew that we were playing against the best team in the world, and with very little they can score on you,” Leganes midfielder Ruben Perez said.

Sevilla recovered from its loss to Barcelona in the previous round by beating Celta Vigo 2-1 to move back to fifth place.

Celta got on the board first through Maxi Gomez, but the hosts rallied with goals by Luis Muriel in the first half and Nolito in the second.

It was the fourth win in five matches for Sevilla in all competitions.

Markel Bergara and Jorge Molina scored in the first 10 minutes to lead Getafe to a comfortable 4-1 win over Alaves at home.

It was the 10th league loss for Alaves, which remains in 18th place. Getafe is 10th.

“Our performance was embarrassing,” Alaves coach Gianni De Biasi said.

La Liga: Barcelona hit Atleti late, but lose perfect record

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MADRID (AP) Barcelona lost its perfect Spanish league record and salvaged a 1-1 draw at Atletico Madrid with a late equalizer by Luis Suarez on Saturday.

Suarez scored with a header from close range in the 82nd minute to leave Barcelona five points ahead of Real Madrid, which defeated Getafe 2-1 with a late winner by Cristiano Ronaldo.

Atletico contained Lionel Messi and was in control of the game until Suarez found the net after being ineffective for most of the match.

Saul Niguez gave the hosts the lead at their Wanda Metropolitano Stadium with a well-placed shot from outside the area in the first half.

The draw left Atletico in third place, six points behind Barcelona, which won its first seven league matches.

Sevilla dropped to fourth place, also six points off the lead, after losing at Athletic Bilbao 1-0.

Atletico was looking to win the first high-profile game of the league and establish itself as a contender beside Barcelona and Madrid.

Barcelona, which had outscored opponents 23-2, controlled possession but it was Atletico which was able to create the most significant opportunities. Antoine Griezmann had two clear chances denied by Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen early.

Atletico did a good job stopping Messi, after his starring role to put Argentina in the World Cup. He has 14 goals in 11 matches with Barcelona but was shut out at the Metropolitano. A second-half free kick hit the post.

Suarez, who was also coming off a long trip with Uruguay, struggled until jumping between Atletico defenders to head in a cross by substitute Sergi Roberto.

Two weeks after playing behind closed doors to protest the Spanish government’s moves to halt Catalonia’s independence referendum, Barcelona was met with Spanish flags, and outspoken defender Gerard Pique was loudly jeered by the local fans.

Ronaldo had been mostly subdued for Madrid until scoring the 85th-minute winner at Alfonso Perez Coliseum in southern Madrid.

After a perfect long pass by Isco, Ronaldo let the ball bounce and fired in for his first league goal of the season.

“We know that when we need Cristiano, he is always there for us,” Madrid left back Marcelo said.

Karim Benzema opened the scoring for Madrid with a great run into the area, getting past a defender with a quick touch before sending a low shot into the far corner. It was also his first league goal. The French striker was returning from injury.

Striker Jorge Molina equalized for the hosts early in the second half. Replays showed Molina was offside.

Getafe, which had a few chances to equalize in the final minutes, also conceded late goals in home losses to Sevilla and Barcelona. It dropped to 14th in the 20-team standings.

“We can’t allow this to keep happening,” Molina said of the late goals. “Maybe we shouldn’t have stayed only on defense, maybe we could have pressed a little bit more.”

Madrid got the win even though coach Zinedine Zidane couldn’t count on several regulars following the international break.

La Liga: Own goals help Barca stay perfect; Atleti, Real win

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GIRONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona was helped by two own goals from Girona as it eased to a 3-0 win and kept its perfect record in the Spanish league on Saturday.

Barcelona increased its lead of the league to four points after Atletico Madrid beat Sevilla 2-0 to leapfrog the Andalucian club into second place.

Barcelona went ahead at Montilivi Stadium when Girona defender Aday Benitez deflected Jordi Alba’s off-target shot back into his net.

Barcelona’s Luis Suarez and Aleix Vidal did more to help provoke a second goal three minutes after halftime, when Suarez deftly let Vidal’s dangerous short pass go through his legs, where it hit surprised goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz and went into the net.

Suarez capped Barcelona’s sixth victory in as many league matches – to go with a victory over Juventus in the Champions League – when he was left all alone to take Sergi Roberto’s lobbed pass and beat Iraizoz.

It was a second goal in six matches for Suarez, who missed two matches because of a right knee injury.

The decision by Girona coach Pablo Machin to man-mark Lionel Messi with Pablo Maffeo succeeded in preventing the Barcelona star from adding to his best ever start to a Liga. Messi scored nine goals in the first five rounds.

“Messi worked for the team,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. “I like the team spirit we are showing. We are mentally focused to get to work.”

Girona, which is playing in its first season in the topflight, was left in 15th place with just one win.

Barcelona visits Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League on Wednesday.


BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Real Madrid turned to new midfielder Dani Ceballos to help it get back on the winning path in the Spanish league on Saturday.

The midfielder made the most of his first start for Zinedine Zidane’s team by scoring twice to lead a 2-1 victory at winless Alaves.

The win came three days after Madrid lost 1-0 at home to Ceballo’s former team, Real Betis. That slip combined with a pair of home draws left the defending champions trailing leader Barcelona.

Madrid cut the difference with Barcelona to four points before the pacesetter visited Girona later.

Ceballos struck in the 10th minute and restored the defending champions’ advantage two minutes before halftime.

Ceballos received a pass from Marco Asensio, fought through a tackle, and shot just inside the post for the opener.

Manu Garcia responded by ending Alaves’ long scoring drought. His powerful header from a cross by Munir El Haddadi was the Basque Country club’s first goal of the season.

But Ceballos put Madrid back in charge when he fired in a ball that goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco spilled when he collided with a teammate while defending a cross.

Alaves almost leveled late when substitute Alfonso Pedraza twice hit the woodwork.

Cristiano Ronaldo also hit the goal-frame twice in the second half as the Madrid forward seeks his first goal in the league after he was suspended for the first four rounds for pushing a referee.

Diego Costa watched as his soon-to-be teammates on Atletico Madrid dealt Sevilla a 2-0 defeat and leapfrogged the Andalucian side into second place.

Antoine Griezmann and Yannick Carrasco scored in the second half while Costa watched from the stands of the club’s new Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.

Carrasco raced around Steven N’Zoni to reach a through pass from Luciano Vietto. Carrasco avoided sliding goalkeeper Sergio Rico and pushed the ball into the empty net.

The Belgium winger also started the attack that led to the second goal. Carrasco made a run into the area before crossing for Griezmann, who fought to keep control of the ball before he exchanged it with Filipe Luis and fired under Rico.

Sevilla fell to third, one point behind Atletico.

Atletico reached a deal with Chelsea this week for Costa to return to his former club.

Atletico will host Chelsea in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Diego Rolan scored a double to help Malaga rally from a two-goal deficit in the final minutes and earn a 3-3 draw with visitors Athletic Bilbao.

Bilbao went ahead thanks to an early penalty converted by Aritz Aduriz before Rolan made it 1-1 for Malaga.

Inaki Williams then netted twice for Bilbao, but Malaga scored twice in the final 10 minutes to secure its first point of the season after it lost its first five matches.

Completing the trident: Why they’ll line up for Barca

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The 2008-09 season was the year Lionel Messi’s numbers went from promising to gaudy, the Argentine wizard overtaking Samuel Eto'o and Thierry Henry for the team lead in goals.

Since then, he’s annually summited Barca’s goals table aside from Luis Suarez’s almost absurd 59-goal season in 2015-16. You have to say almost absurd because Messi has thrown up 50 or more goals five times, including an actually absurd 73.

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Here are Barca’s leading goal scorers the last nine seasons:

2008-09: Messi-38, Eto’o-36, Henry-26, Xavi-10, Bojan-10
2009-10: Messi-47, Pedro-23, Ibrahimovic-21, Bojan-12
2010-11: Messi-53, Villa-23, Pedro-22, Iniesta-9
2011-12: Messi-73, Fabregas-15, Sanchez-15, Xavi-14, Pedro-13
2012-13: Messi-60, Villa-16, Fabregas-13, Sanchez-8
2013-14: Messi-41, Alexis-19, Pedro-17, Fabregas-13, Neymar-12
2014-15: Messi-58, Neymar-39, Suarez-25, Pedro-11
2015-16: Suarez-59, Messi-41, Neymar-31, Rakitic-9
2016-17: Messi-54, Suarez-37, Neymar-20, Turan-13, Rakitic-9

So of the 30 top-scoring seasons in soccer history, Messi has three and Suarez has one. Cristiano Ronaldo has done it thrice as well, wo players have done it in Wales’ top flight, one in Estonia, and Mario Jardel scored 55 for Sporting CP in 2001-02. That’s it for this century.

All of that is a loooooong preamble to say the following: with Messi and Suarez still very much near the top of their games, the remaining tip of the trident is the most attractive spot in soccer.

So for those who might see how Liverpool’s started and wonder, “Maybe Coutinho is having second thoughts!”, or take a look at reports that Riyad Mahrez is fine as a “Plan B” despite being a former Premier League Player of the Year, and wonder why, here’s why: Any player who gets the chance to sit on the other side of that duo is going to bury at least 20 goals and have an experience few other players have had.

Even if the purported acrimony between Barca’s hierarchy and players is real, Messi isn’t leaving and Barca remains Barca.

Top Billing in South America: Argentina vs. Uruguay

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Lionel Messi is back for Argentina. And Luis Suarez is expected to return for Uruguay.

The two Barcelona teammates should be the focus on Thursday in South America’s most high-profile World Cup qualifier.

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With four rounds of qualifying remaining, Brazil has already advanced to Russia and leads the group with 33 points. The five-time World Cup winners are followed by Colombia (24), Uruguay (23), Chile (23), Argentina (22) and Ecuador (20). Peru and Paraguay have 18 points, and little chance to advance. Bolivia and Venezuela have been eliminated.

In addition to Brazil, three more teams will claim the remaining automatic berths, and one more South American team could also reach Russia in a playoff.

A look at the key games:

URUGUAY-ARGENTINA

Messi is back from a one-game ban for insulting a match official. It was originally four matches, but the Argentine soccer association appealed successfully.

That’s good news for coach Jorge Sampaoli, who will be on the bench for his first official game in charge. Without Messi, Argentina lost to Bolivia 2-0 in its last qualifier in March.

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez also needs Suarez. He has a right-knee injury, which Tabarez said will be evaluated in the run-up to the match.

With or without Suarez, Tabarez knows “it will be a very, very difficult match.”

Sampaoli replaced Edgardo Bauza in early June and has coached friendly wins over Brazil and Singapore. Sampaoli has left Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain out of the side, going instead with Paulo Dybala, who is seen as Messi’s heir on the national team.

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Tabarez is remaking the Uruguay side, which has been about the same since finishing fourth in the 2010 World Cup and the 2011 Copa America. New faces include Federico Valverde, Mauricio Lemos and Gaston Pereiro.

“It’s not just another game coming up,” Uruguay defender Diego Godin said. “It’s a classic, and we know who we’re playing.”

VENEZUELA-COLOMBIA

Colombia attacking midfielder James Rodriguez is out with a right thigh injury. His new club, Bayern Munich, has allowed him to travel, under the condition that he doesn’t play. He could be available for the Sept. 5 qualifier against Brazil.

The match takes place in San Cristobal, Venezuela, in the midst of the South American country’s deepening social and economic crisis.

Argentina-born coach Jose Pekerman should be able to get by without Rodriguez. Venezuela has only six points from 14 matches.

“Venezuela playing Colombia is always played as if your life depends on it,” Colombia winger Juan Guillermo Cuadrado said.

Colombia will rely on Radamel Falcao, who has scored seven goals for French club Monaco in only four games.

BRAZIL-ECUADOR

Brazil has advanced, winning eight straight qualifiers under coach Tite.

Tite will have Neymar, fresh off his record-breaking transfer to Paris Saint-Germain. The player most watched will be winger Philippe Coutinho, who has yet to play a minute with Liverpool. The English club says Coutinho has been out with a back injury. Meanwhile, Coutinho has been linked in a move to Barcelona to replace Neymar.

Ecuador needs a victory in the match in the southern city of Porto Alegre to stay in the race.

“It’s a tough challenge,” Ecuador coach Gustavo Quinteros said. “But Ecuador has shown when it plays well, it can beat anybody.”

CHILE-PARAGUAY

Chile’s hopes in Santiago against Paraguay probably ride with Alexis Sanchez, who played his first minutes of the season in Arsenal’s 4-0 loss to Liverpool. Sanchez missed the first two matches with an injury.

PERU-BOLIVIA

Peru and Bolivia play the other match with neither team going anywhere. Peru will be without captain and top scorer Paolo Guerrero, who is suspended. He is eligible for the next match against Ecuador.

Zuniga reported from New York.